From Judex Okoro, Calabar
There is tension and palpable fear among the political class as All Progressives Congress, APC, has taken over the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, secretariat located at 42A Murtala Mohammed Highway in Calabar Municipality.
This is coming barely three days after Governor Ben Ayade had defected to the ruling APC and commended his former party, PDP, for “standing with him all through his political life and it is not in his culture to pay good with evil.
“I am a man of conscience, I have no reason to castigate the PDP that made me all I am politically today. PDP gave me the opportunity to go to Senate and two term governor. Moreso, I learn from history and recent happenings around me. I thank the leaders of my former party and enjoin then to join us to build a better Nigeria.”
But at early hours of today, Saturday, May 22, 2021, a crack team of stern-looking policemen numbering about 20 stormed the PDP secretariat and cordoned off the building while some painters were seen there scrapping off the PDP colour and repainting it with APC colour.
Government House source revealed that Ayade, in a meeting with some APC stakeholders, promised that he would hand over the PDP secretariat to this new party and furnish it to befit their new statue.
The source said he told APC members that he pays the rent and therefore they should take over the building from next week.
But when our correspondent went the secretariat as at 11: 30am, the security operatives have been withdrawn from the secretariat, leaving only the painters and a handful of youths hovering around the building.
The secretariat was rented in August 1999 by the trio of former Gov Donald Duke, late Chief John Okpa, former Deputy Governor to Duke and Efiok Cobham, former Deputy Governor to Sen Liyel Imoke.
The first rent for the two-storey building lasted for two years and they paid the sum of N1.9m. Since then, PDP has been occupying the building as their secretariat.
A source close to the administrator of the property, one Ms Theresa, said he has not handed over the property to any other party other than PDP.
Reacting to the deployment of policemen to the party secretariat, the Cross River State Police Command said they went there to forestall breakdown of law and order in the state.
The statement made available to journalists in Calabar and signed by Police Public Relations Officer of the Command, DSP Irene Ugbo, read in part:
“The attention of the Nigeria Police has been drawn to plans by some individuals / group to disrupt the renovation work going on at a building on No:142 (a ) along the Muritala Mohammed Highway Calabar.
“For the avoidance of doubt the property is a rented property, that “Tenancy” is not in ‘Contention.’ As a responsible Command, we will not sit back and watch any person(s) disrupt the relative peace we have worked tirelessly to achieve. All are warned to maintain peace, law and order.
“The current situation is a wake up call to Men of Character to rise up put resources together to enplace Structure that will not be contentious in future.”